I agree concerning the gearing- 6th is way too. In my 2.0TS 166 I'm doing over 3500 rpm at 80mph... however, all modern Alfas appear to be geared in this way. My car has plenty of oomph tho. Drove a 2.5v6 a while back and loved the creaminess and sound, but didn't feel particularly quicker. Regarding a Focus having better handling- are you serious!
I have the updated in 2004 3.2L manual version and so far totally reliable, does 27.5mpg and goes like stink in all gears. Big discounts from new at 35% and even cheaper nearly new so worth seeking out. It also looks much better than the original versions.
I have Just purchased a used (year 2000) 166 3.0 sportronic.
An earlier commentator says not a patch on Mercs and BM's.. When making this comparison the cost of a the used vehicle must be considered i.e. you pay about half what you would pay for a German with an equivalent spec.. My car was £ 6,200 with 20,000 miles.. simply put a 5 series of the same age / miles would be closer to £ 12,000.
He is right however when he says the Auto and Sportronic have problems.. I believe they, and the gear ratios, are badly matched to the engine. In Auto the kick down is unwilling unless you nail it, the actual changes are quite smooth. The sportronic is satisfying if you are letting the car run through 2 or 3 gear changes all the way to the red line, but otherwise is a bit clumsy/slow.
As to hesitancy... likely to be an airflow meter easy to change 10 minute job (about 150 quid)
The engine itself sings.. I know of no smoother more symphonic 6 cylinder.. If as the first commentator you don't think it accelerates then I am certain something must be wrong.. Mine is a rocket ship.. handling.. yes it is a 1700 kilo exec saloon.. a little soft perhaps too compliant compliant, but predictable and for its type responsive.. the secret with big motors is smoothness of inputs when driving.. you can't make all that mass change direction without some backlash.
Fuel consumption.. round town = 15/gal mixed driving = 23 / gal.. steady legal motorway trip = 28 / gal.
Had my 166, 3.0V6 Auto (Sportronic) for 3years and cannot fault it. It's fantastic handling for such a saloon, previously owned BMW733 auto; 325iS Auto; Merc 300SE Auto; Alfa164Auto, Astra2.0_GSI, Toyota1.6GLiSport.
The Alfa166 will out run and out perform any of the other cars I owned - it's a rocket. There is no boy racer in Golf or similar who stands a chance if it's anything more than 50m sprint.
This is not a boy racer car- it's a sporty exec saloon. Its soft and comfortable with it's original 16" alloys. It will obliterate most other cars in it's class.
This is a high revving engine - very little torque is produced at low revs (torque peak is at over 4500rpm). This means it is very sombre and relaxed at low revs in any gear. However, if you flick it to sport mode, she will hang on to gears to at least 3000rpm before changing and much higher if you press the accelerator. At this level of revs she is very lively and responsive. In manual form, you should select the right gear to be in the power band if you want performance.
OK, so the German ZF tiptronic gearbox is not the best and smoothest change always (comparing to GM from USA), but it is as good (in fact identical) to the Merc, Audi, Porch, Peugeot, Citroen and BMW box.
I think it's a great car as long as its all functional and working properly. No flat spots or any of that nonsense.
I do have my reservations about the after sales service though - not sure if the garages are competent. I prefer DIY, just don't trust them. I feel the same for BMW and Opel service...
Update to my original post of April 2005.
1999 3.0l 6 Speed Manual.
After my original comments two years ago I replaced the MAF which transformed the performance of the car. I still stand by my original comment that the performance and MPG are not as good as the 164 12V, however, when the STR is engaged the performance is more than a match for my driving skills.
Reliability has been generally good. With only the following failures:
The drivers seat-back broke and I was quoted £1400 for a replacement. It took me 12 hours to remove the seat, strip it, weld repair the broken frame and re-install, but it saved me the value of the car!
It's still one of the most stylish executive saloons out there even 8 years on.
I bought a low mileage 2001 2.0TS manual and have been delighted.
On motorway runs it is a smooth and comfortable cruiser, and I'm getting (with some concentration) over 43mpg according to the trip - hit 44mpg average for a short spell today. My overall average so far is over 30mpg across all conditions. On day to day driving, the engine is responsive, with the best noise and performance at about 4000 revs.
It also lugs plenty of kit round with me to my speaking gigs - the boot is cavernous.
Currently the only thing that doesn't work quite right is the remote central locking. Oddly the remote central unlocking is fine... But I can live with this for such a beautiful car.
One other niggle I had when I first got the car was that the rain sensitive wipers didn't work, but that was fixed when I had to have the windscreen replaced (too big a stone chip).